Pulmonary Embolism is a life-threatening condition that is commonly caused by a blood clot in the lungs. The blood clot restricts blood flow and decreases oxygen levels in the blood which will affect other organs in the body. According to Mayo Clinic, one-third of people who have pulmonary embolism dies because of not providing immediate medical attention.
The most common symptoms of pulmonary embolism are shortness of breath, chest pain and cough. If you experience these symptoms, immediately consult your doctor.
Pulmonary embolism can be treated with medication, medical procedures, and therapies. The primary goal is to remove the blood clot, prevent the blood clot from getting bigger or stop new clots from forming.
Anticoagulants or blood thinners are being taken to people with pulmonary embolism to decrease the ability of the blood to clot. Anticoagulants do not remove clots but delay the enlargement and formation of blood clots. Anticoagulants come in pills, injection, or through an IV tube. Treatment may last from three to six months.
Thrombolytic therapy is used in patients with acute pulmonary embolism. Thrombolysis medicines are being taken to dissolve blood clots. Thrombolytic causes severe bleeding, thus it should be used in life-threatening situations. Apart from PE, thrombolysis is used in strokes and ST-elevation myocardial infarction. This treatment is not used in patients with hypotension or low blood pressure.
Embolectomy can be surgical or through the use of a catheter. The primary goal of this procedure is to remove the emboli which block blood circulation. In cases of thrombi (blood clots), thrombectomy is used. This procedure should be used for patients with sub-massive acute pulmonary embolism and are experiencing major myocardial necrosis, new hemodynamic instability, severe right ventricular dysfunction or worsening respiratory failure.
Vena Cava Filters
The inferior vena cava is one of the largest veins that is responsible for returning deoxygenated blood to the heart. However, in cases of pulmonary embolism, filters should be installed in the inferior vena cava to trap the emboli. Inferior vena cava interruption is only applicable to patients with acute venous thromboembolism, massive PE, and patients having complications with anticoagulants.
Compression therapy is also advised for patients to prevent pulmonary embolism from occurring. The use of compression garments promotes healthy blood circulation in the veins. It is advised for patients with deep vein thrombosis (DVT) which causes pulmonary embolism. Usually, patients are asked to wear compression stockings with a pressure of 30-40 mm Hg at the ankle for two to three years.
Monitoring and Consultation
Long-term monitoring is an essential part of the recovery of the patient with PE. Basically, the length of the treatment depends on the severity of SE and presence of risk factors. If there are no risk factors, therapy can last for six months. However, if risk factors are present, it will be extended for at least four to six months. Moreover, patients who are experiencing early symptoms of blood clots, even varicose veins should consult a doctor to assess the health situation of the blood circulation.